Steve Smith is No Monster – In the New, Conscience-Free Version of Cricket

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Steve Smith is No Monster – In the New, Conscience-Free Version of Cricket

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

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nce upon a time, there existed “the gentleman’s game”. But it died a slow death.

On Saturday, Australian captain Steve Smith put the final nail in the coffin with some blatantly ungentlemanlike behaviour. Smith provided us with the latest proof that in today’s version of cricket, lying, cheating, and stealing are as common as batting, bowling, and fielding. Not only did he attempt to tamper with the ball to screw with the South African batsmen, he went the extra Machiavellian mile in having rookie Cameron Bancroft do the deed, to insulate himself from the blame.

Sportsmanship is well and truly dead. This is a good thing, as we can move on from cricket being a leftover relic of our colonial masters to the cutthroat bloodsport we never knew we needed.

If Virat Kohli’s regular transgressions beyond the bounds of good taste haven’t clued you in yet, allow me to break the news to you. In today’s game, breaking records doesn’t win you as many fans as breaking the rules. Let’s all accept that calling cricketers gentlemen doesn’t automatically bestow them with class, and actually start celebrating the players and moments that have, until now, been relegated to the halls of shame.

The cricketers are as likely to clean up their act as Navjot Singh Sidhu is to take a vow of silence, so why not bend the rules of the game so that moments like the Aussie’s latest mea culpa turn into a lesson in discipline instead?

Now some might say this is the death of cricket, and Steve Smith and his team’s actions should be harshly punished for going against the spirit of the game.

A new breed of cricketer will be needed for this callous, conscience-free version of the sport. In a game where every player is dirty, the best of the best will have to be a real monster to succeed. As established already, Aussie captain Steve Smith’s voluntary “brain fades” concerning fair play will be a key part of his arsenal. Ball tampering is only the start; the Steve Smiths of the future will resort to all-out sabotage, even leaving chilly powder in their opponents’ crotch guards before the game.

On-field conduct will be modelled on the rhetoric of Virat Kohli. Inspired by Kohli’s verbal barbs and language, the next generation of cricket captains will have to line up face to face and throw down in a diss battle on the lines of Yo Momma, instead of calling the toss. Of course, if there is no clear winner, the toss will be decided via a good old duel with bats, in honour of Javed Miandad.

Once the games begin, the cheating will also extend to the players’ kits. Remember the furore over Ricky Ponting allegedly using a spring in his bat during the 2004 World Cup final? In the future, batsmen will walk to the pitch with rocket-powered gloves to add power to their downswing.

Now some might say this is the death of cricket, and Steve Smith and his team’s actions should be harshly punished for going against the spirit of the game. One of these people calling for the visionary Aussie’s head is former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin, who is forgetting his own contributions to the cricket of the future. Once he’s invited to coach the Indian squad on how to properly deal with bookies, his complaints should cease.

So instead of condemning Steve Smith, perhaps we should celebrate him. After all, he’s helped us see just exactly what the former gentleman’s game has become – a playground for corruptible monsters.

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